I’ve just returned from an amazing whirlwind trip to Israel. During my week-long visit I was able to see most of the small country, and I’m so obsessed with Israel I’m already planning my return visit (we’ll definitely be doing an Israel guidebook for women in the next two years).
Here are the hot-burning questions everyone wants to know about Israel, and some very good reasons on why you should visit.
Is it Safe?
YES! I can’t tell you how many people told me to “be safe” before traveling. It seems like every photo I put up on Facebook consisted of “Looks fun, stay safe.” It makes sense—this is, afterall, the Middle East. But Israel, overall, is a pretty safe country. I never once felt threatened, nor by the people, or by the environment.
You will see soldiers here and there, but they’ll likely be eating at a restaurant or sitting with other soldiers drinking a beer. They have guns, but they’re not in your face. Aside from the West Bank or Gaza, there are hardly any checkpoints in which soldiers stand guard. I never once felt unsafe while here. Maybe that’s why the Israelis constantly describe Israel as “the safest country in the world.”
The Money: I hate to break it to you, but Israel is not cheap. The conversion rate is about 3.75 shekels to $1 USD. Sounds good in theory, but everything ends out being the same, if not more, than what you’d pay in the states. For example:
- Falafel and Coke: 28 shekels/ $7-$8. For street food!
- Goldstar Beer (local beer): 20-30 shekels/ $7-8
- Restaurant food: 40 shekels +
- Pack of Tums: 20 shekels
Rent in Tel Aviv? Can range anywhere from $600-$1500 per month. It’s not particularly expensive, but it’s by no means cheap. So, if you’re planning on living on the cheap here, be sure to figure out where the local markets are, use them, and save your pennies!
The Role of Women: Israel is a very diverse country and the role of women seems to range wherever you go. As a whole, I’d say it’s still a pretty chauvinistic country for women in relationships—you’re pretty much expected to do whatever your man needs and take care of the family—but in modern places like Tel Aviv, women can (and do) do whatever they want. It’s also a safe place for women. I saw many women walking alone at night, and personally felt secure wherever I went. I also liked the fact that something like 1/3 of the country’s entrepreneurs are women.
The Dress Code: Conservative-ish. Tel Aviv is a place where anything goes and you won’t get any weird looks in dresses or tank tops(think of it as the Miami of the Middle East) but in cities like Haifa and Jerusalem, you will stick out if you’re not semi-covered up. These countries are also home to large Orthodox populations, and while you don’t have to cover up head to toe like they do, you should show respect by covering your shoulders and chest.
If you visit any of the religious sites in Jerusalem, be sure to cover up, or bring a scarf or sweater to throw on as you enter.
*Something you might not know: Although it’s the holiest place on earth, Jerusalem also has a banging nightlife in and around Zion Square. Smoke hookah, drink beer, party with the 18 year olds on a birthright tour—you’ll see “the other Jerusalem.” It’s a lot of fun!
Stay tuned! We’ll be posting about Israel through the week!